‘Tech and Tears’ in New York City

Written by D'Anne Hotchkiss

January 24, 2024

Infographic. Facts shown: for every retailer who attends, 250 children receive life skills training or computer training or access to clean water through a new well

‘Tech and Tears’ in New York City

Earlier this month I was in New York, where I attended, among other events, the day-long RetailROI, Retail Orphan Initiative. It’s the unofficial start to the annual National Retail Federation trade show that I’ve attended off and on since about 1990.

As a vertically integrated company, we’re both a consumer goods manufacturer and a retailer, so NRF is where I can learn from other retailers, analysts, tech vendors, and other experts.

RetailROI skillfully interweaves sessions about retail tech with the work of this fantastic non-profit. It’s all under the direction of the amazing Greg Busek. Greg is president of IHL Group, a global research and advisory firm for the retail and hospitality industries. I’ve known Greg for years.

Attendees of RetailROI come together to raise money for orphaned and vulnerable children in the US and around the world. I was blown away to learn that if orphans were a country, they would comprise the 8th largest country in the world. This year’s event raised more than $375,000.


RetailROI in Action

RetailROI is nicknamed “Tech and Tears” for a reason. Both were in evidence, especially in the session about a non-profit here in Charlotte called Congregations for Kids. I will write about that organization’s mission in a few weeks. We also laughed and cried during the keynote by rapper Darryl McDaniels, better known as Run-DMC. He told his own story of learning as an adult he had been adopted as an infant by his foster parents. He’s certain that growing up in a loving family made it possible for him to achieve all that he has. His non-profit, Camp Felix, gives NYC foster children a chance to learn how to swim, rock climb, dance, and generally just be kids enjoying the great outdoors.

Retailers take part in the Retail Orphan Initiative for free and tech vendors can choose their sponsorship level. Manufacturers like us are asked to donate prizes and this year we donated $200 in e-gift certificates.

This was my first year attending Retail ROI, but I don’t intend it to be my last.

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